Health & Fitness Digest - September 14

Exposure to BPA Plastics (e.g. water bottles) linked to anxiety and depression in young boys

We try to strictly avoid plastic containers at home. We use glass to store all foods and we NEVER reheat food in plastic containers.

This is because of the overwhelming research-backed evidence that almost all plastics contain chemicals called “endocrine disruptors”: they “mimic” your own hormones, disrupting the delicate balance of hormones in the body and leading to a series of health issues for both men and women.

One of the worse plastics is “BPA”, commonly found in a variety of “food grade” plastic containers and water bottles.

This new study from Columbia University demonstrated how pre-natal exposure to BPA plastics increases the risk of anxiety and depression in boys aged 10 to 12. Previous studies had already demonstrated how BPA exposure leads to increased aggressive behavior for boys aged 7-9.

Note the word “pre-natal” here: the boys did not get exposed “after birth”, but while in the mother’s womb.

So PLEASE avoid plastics as much as you can, especially if you’re expecting a child. If you must use plastics, choose ones clearly labeled “BPA FREE”. 


Should you believe the “research” on artificial sweeteners?

The topic of artificial sweeteners is a touchy one.

I can find 100 research papers which conclude that artificial sweeteners DO help with weight loss. Then again I can find another 100 research papers which conclude that they do NOT.

Who are we to believe?

I just came across this interesting study on the scientists who DID all this research, and there are some interesting conclusions:

  • 42% (yes! Almost half!) of the studies did NOT disclose a financial conflict of interest (where authors received money from the “industry”).
  • Generally, most studies which received money from “industry” resulted in “positive” conclusions about artificial sweeteners and weight loss.
  • Generally, most “independent” studies (no money received from “industry”) resulted in “negative” conclusions about the same.

My take: I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners for a number of reasons, mainly in relation to potential negative health consequences. The exception being 100% natural stevia, which hasn’t been shown to have negative health consequences thus far.

HOWEVER: I’m not a fan of ANY sweeteners when it comes to weight loss because: sweeteners tend to reinforce your “desire for sweet taste”.

The more sweetness you taste, the more you get used to it, the more your crave. That’s a slippery slope, since it will lead you to consume more and more “sweet” food and drink, whether they’re artificially sweetened or not.

If you are truly keen on losing weight, then avoid all “sweet things” for a few weeks to allow your palate to “reset” and become more sensitive to sweetness. If you adopt this approach, you’ll get to a point where everything will taste sweeter (e.g. strawberries, blueberries, etc.), and you end up consuming far less to satisfy your “sweet tooth”.


Ultra-sound during the first 3 months of pregnancy linked to increased severity of autism

Child autism is on the rise globally. We still don’t know why, and various scientists across the globe are trying to ascertain the triggers.

Suspects range from environmental pollutants, to dietary changes, vaccines, and more. Time will eventually tell.

However, one thing became apparent recently based on new research from the University of Washington: exposure to ultra-sound during the first trimester of pregnancy seems to increase the “severity” of autism in the child.

The FDA recommends limiting ultra-sound to “medical necessities” only, but many parents request (and many doctors offer) frequent ultra-sound sessions early during pregnancy.

Now that you’ve seen this new evidence, please share with your pregnant friends and make sure they “educate” their doctors in case they may not be aware.


How frequent “resistance” training impacts your running economy

I’ve always talked about the strong benefits of resistance strength training (training with significant weights) when it comes to running performance.

This new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the impact of frequent resistance training (2 to 3 times per week as well as some plyometric exercises) on “running economy”.

Running economy is essentially your “running efficiency”: improved running economy means you’ll be able to run faster for longer at any given distance.

The study in question focused on middle and long-distance highly trained athletes. For this particular group, the benefits were clear and significant.

From my personal experience working with “entry-level” athletes, my view is that such benefits are even bigger for “newbies” vs. “trained” endurance athletes.

As such, my recommendation is that you incorporate 2-3 resistance training sessions per week into your running / endurance training program, and make sure to include the full range of exercises: strength (with heavier weights), muscular endurance (e.g. TRX and repetitive bodyweight), and explosive (plyometrics).